Results – Concours de Promotion

The results were announced. I was ranked 4th in my class and since there were two places for promotion this year, I was not promoted this time. Feeling disappointed is inevitable. But there’s another part of the “results”, it’s the fact that I tried my best, worked really hard for it, was satisfied with my performance on stage and that I had no regrets.

The sleepless nights and endless hours of self-reflection gave me new insights into Life. At each obstacle that we meet in life, we might let it make us feel defeated, hopeless and lost. We might find different excuses in order to justify the failure. For example, “I failed because I had no luck this time“… This way of thinking would only make us ignore the real problems and bury our heads into the sand.

Instead, as my grandma has always told me, Everything Happens for a Reason. Let’s have faith that every experience makes us grow and that God (or Life, or whatever we may call it) knows perfectly the plans He has for us. So never stop looking at the bright side of life and never ever forget who we truly are, our life purpose, and what we’re called to do. I believe that every single one of us are called to a Purpose. Always reconnect to our calling and we’d never be lost again. Learn from each failure and get back up stronger each time.

As the saying goes:

Life is not about how many times you fall down, it’s about how many times you get back up.

Jaime Escalante
This was taken right after the Concours. The sun was out, the blue sky was smiling to me.

Concours de Promotion – videos

Napoli Variation

Romeo and Juliet Variation

I am back! After the Concours…

During the past three weeks, the dancers of the Paris Opera Ballet had been busy preparing for their Concours de Promotion 2019 while having the usual rehearsals and performances. I myself was no exception, that’s why I have been off from this blog for quite some time.

The Concours took place last Friday, on 8th November for the boys. So I am back again and have a lot to share about this experience. It was indeed quite an experience! This was my third Concours de Promotion at the Paris Opera, and I had never been so nervous before.

We had a dress rehearsal on 7th November and the Concours was just the day after. The stage fright that I had been feeling since 6th evening was especially intense this time. I really wanted to deliver a good performance on stage. Even though I had learnt a lot of different mental techniques to overcome stress and anxiety, it seemed to be a subconscious thing: even when the conscious mind wasn’t thinking about the Concours, I was still feeling very nervous. There would be pressure and numbness around my head, fast heartbeat and even a slight pain in the chest area.

Why was that? The 3-weeks preparation went really well and everything felt more ready than ever. Yet I had a pressure level similar to that I had before the First Round of Varna International Ballet Competition back in summer 2018, when I had to dance for the first time after 2 weeks of rest, with a half-torn hip flexor muscle, and on an unfamiliar open-air wooden stage.

The two nights before the Concours were among the longest that I had. Sleepless, despite the use of a few strong but natural sleeping pills, I tried every possible method to make myself fall asleep: Guided meditation, hypnosis recordings, relaxing musics, deep breathing exercises, lavender essential oils….. and the list goes on. Fear of failure? Lack of confidence? I tried really hard to figure out the real reason behind these emotions.

Having learnt about the importance of mental strength and mindset in sport performance, I tried to empower myself with positive ideas and inspiring stories, a process from which I learned a lot, not only for the Concours but for Life in general.

The D-Day finally came, after one month of intense work and different sacrifices made. When I stepped on that stage, in front of a full audience and the long table of the judge panel. I felt confident, joyous and honoured to be on that stage. All the nerves and self-imagined-drama seemed worthy, when I felt the fearlessness, determination and freedom for artistic expression, during those 3-minutes of performance.

To be continued in the next post……

Concours de Promotion 2019

This year’s Promotional Contest officially started its preparation at the Paris Opera Ballet. It will take place on 6th and 8th November on the stage of the Palais Garnier. We’re back to booking studios by sticking a little piece of paper on the studios’ door!

For the Quadrille men, this year’s compulsory variation happens to be Napoli’s first male solo. I had worked on this variation many times when I was at the Paris Opera School, and for my audition video tape back in August 2014…

This video is from 4 years ago! It’s always interesting to see how we evolved, how my body changed (so much!), and how the way we look at ourselves changed too. Today, I see a lot of imperfections that I wouldn’t have necessarily seen or agreed four years ago. Therefore, in that sense, I am very happy to leave these videos on the internet, so that we can find back those memories very easily.

However, I have never performed it on stage. So this November’s Concours would be a nice opportunity for me to actually perform it!

I believe that the key to go through this period of Concours here is to appreciate the progress that we could benefit from this intense period of work and preparation, never stop looking at the bright side of things, keep feeling our love for our passion and just enjoy the present, the “now”!

Business Cool interview

Here’s a short article by Business Cool about my recent graduation at Grenoble Ecole de Management, a semi-private business school in Grenoble, France.

Who would have thought that I would one day do an interview in French? This is the very first one I guess. Thank you Maximilien for this article!

Business may seem to be a domaine very far from that of Ballet. However, it may be much more connected than you’d think! From running a ballet company, fundraising, ticketing to self-promotion for an artist (communication), business knowledge can be very important in the ballet world too.

“Why are you picking up studies again? Will you quit ballet?”

This is a frequent question since I started my business course. Picking up serious studies at this early-stage of a dancing career may seem inappropriate or unnecessary. It is thus very comprehensible to question my determination in Ballet.

But, since I was 7 years old, I have been putting a lot of hard work and making sacrifices for dancing professionally. During those four years of training at the Paris Opera Ballet School, no matter how hard it could get, I did not give up because being part of the Paris Opera Ballet was my ultimate goal. How would I leave this position so easily today?

This is a gap year for me in academic studies. However, I will not stop learning and enriching myself with new knowledge inside and outside the Ballet World.

With the master, Mr. William Forsythe!

This afternoon, we finished our 5th performance of the program Sugimoto/Forsythe in Palais Garnier. In total, we will have done 17 performances, so 12 more to go!

After our Première (first performance/ opening), we were invited to a cocktail in the Rotonde du Glacier which is a nice little circular hall in the Palais Garnier. There we said goodbye to the William Forsythe, who had been here with us during our last week of rehearsals. He remembered that I had previously performed in another piece of his: Herman Schmerman. However, he didn’t came at that time. He must have seen videos of it?

How fortunate we are to have this chance to work with him! Every word he told us was deep and true. He told us how we should continue to find different details to work on, to think of, throughout the entire series of performances. How we ballet is all about how the dancers feel, not how we look. How we should have an idea of every mouvement that we do…. etc. I was very much inspired by his words and his person.

The performances are going very well. BlakeWorks I is such a beautiful and wonderful piece to perform. Also, for once, I am not understudying in this program, I have my own spot and am doing the same spot in each show. The music is lively, the technique is not stressful (this means you don’t get super nervous before going on stage, worrying about the tricky technical moments!), feeling very grateful to be doing this! Dreams do come true sometimes.

Photo by Isabelle Aubert, curtain call of BlakeWorks I

Opening of the season 2019

I am officially into my 5th season at the Paris Opera Ballet. The company opened its anniversary season (It’s been 350 years!) on 20th September. For the first time since I entered the company, I performed after the défilé in Forsythe’s BlakeWorks I. Here are some highlights from the evening:

Exceptionally for this gala performance, for technical reasons, during Blake Works I, we must move from stage right to stage left only through the tunnel underneath the stage.